Ten years ago, Robert Kagan famously compared the relationship between the EU and the US to the one between Venus and Mars. Brussels would be the amicable face of the couple wielding its normative influence and soft power potential, in contrast with Washington's aggressive foreign policy. Recent developments, however, have shown that the EU might be giving up its soft politics for a more bellicose stance, at least on Russia.

Lorries from a Russian convoy carrying aid to eastern Ukraine have reached a border post controlled by separatists. But they seem unlikely to cross into Ukraine immediately as the Red Cross said it had still not received security guarantees for the convoy to continue. Earlier Ukraine's military said that separatists had shot down a government fighter jet near the rebel-held city of Luhansk in the east of the country.

European Union foreign ministers met in a emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Iraq. EU leaders welcomed the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, saying it paved the way for a potential political solution in that country. The Czech Republic and the Netherlands joined France in agreeing to send military equipment to aid Kurdish forces.

Australia and Russia have been engaging in a war of words over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. The rhetoric is of course a minor part of the larger ongoing propaganda war over the way in which the crisis in Ukraine is perceived globally. Still, in addition to sanctions, Russia and Australia have continued to trade some particularly pointed remarks in recent weeks. 

Amid controversy in Russia and Ukraine, a U.S. Department of State scholarship program aims to enhance public diplomacy, beginning in Kansas. Two exchange students, from Russia and Ukraine, arrived Friday afternoon at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. They arrived on the same flight. Both students have been awarded the prestigious scholarship through the Department of State.

With a theatrical flourish, Russia on Tuesday dispatched hundreds of trucks covered in white tarps and sprinkled with holy water on a mission to deliver aid to a desperate rebel-held zone in eastern Ukraine.  The televised sight of the miles-long convoy sparked a show of indignation from the government in Kiev, which insisted any aid must be delivered by the international Red Cross.

The Scotland-Russia Forum is calling on Britain and Russia not to let short-term political disputes endanger cultural links between the two nations. Writing in the latest edition of its newsletter, the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh - where the annual festival is under way - said: "The richer the culture – the easier it is to punish".

The U.S. and Russia seem to have fallen into a pattern over the crisis in Ukraine. When Washington ratchets up the pressure on Moscow, Russia doubles down on its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.